NHL Game Night 3/31: Thrashers at Lightning

Atlanta dealt a blow in their own quest for Steve Stamkos.

ATL-2
TB-0

Mike Smith allowed just 1 goal on 23 shots for the loss. Can I just say, "Case in point?" After seeing Karri Ramo go 2-0-1 including a sterling effort against the division leading Canes, Smith got well quickly to play the Thrashers tonight and with only a smidge of goal support he would've won. That's what having two young lions competing for the starting job will do for the Lightning. You won't get that if Smith isn't being pushed because he has a sad sack retread as a backup.

19:40 of even hockey for Matt Smaby with 1 shot on goal and 3 hits. The fact Matt has been even with over 18 minutes of IT in both of these one goal nailbiters only helps his resume going into next season in pursuit of an NHL job. And I'll pose the question again: if Smaby finishes out the year continuing to garner 5-6 minutes more IT than Mike Lundin, does that mean he's passed Lundin on the depth chart? When I heard Coach Tortorella's comments about Ramo and Lundin, I obviously was strongly against sending Ramo down to the minors next season. However, if Lundin doesn't hit the weight room hard this offseason and get the upper body strength he desperately needs, Coach might have a legitimate point about the young blueliner.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

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LA will Take Doughty

The Lightning may be able to get Stamkos with the second pick in the Draft if they don't win the lottery. If LA wins the lottery they may take Drew Doughty, because they need a defensemen more than they need another forward. They have a alot of good forwards with Kopitar, Cammalleri, Brown, O'Sullivan, Frolov, not to mention prospects such as Brian Boyle, the list goes on. They need a good young Defensemen of the Future, that's why I think they'll take Doughty over Stamkos.

Kings would be wise to play it tight to the vest

And see what kind of ransom they can get from us to flip picks with them in that situation..

Jack Johnson

"They need a good young Defensemen of the Future"

They do have a good young defenseman of the future and his name is Jack Johnson. Lombardi has not made it a secret that he would like to address the blueline. If I recall correctly, they have 12 picks in this draft and one of them is the Stars first round pick. He could pick Stamkos (if they retain the first overall pick) and still address the blueline with the other 11 picks.

Hickey, too

They also have Thomas Hickey of Seattle, whom they took early than expected last year (4 overall). Hickey's a smooth puck moving dman who will put up points.

If I'm LA, I take the BPA.

Smaby vs. Lundin

Could very well be. There's also the thought that they know what Lundin can do and they're using these "garbage" games to evaluate Smaby - hence more ice time. After all, when Smaby was recalled Tortorella made a point of saying he didn't read the latest reports on him because he wanted to find out for himself how much (if any) he'd improved.

It could very well be a case of Smaby outplaying him combined with the fact that the physical presence Smaby brings is coveted more than the simple positional play Lundin provides.

At this second, however, you could look at it like SOB is the odd-man out... or the guy falling down the ladder.

I'm surprised they haven't given Lundin more offensive minutes with the hopes of untapping some potential there. Feaster said earlier this year they will eventually expect more out of him in that area.

Hard to say which one they'll end up dropping. They still want to bring in a vet dman, too, and the talk of Kuba moving has all but ended.

Anyone with options remaining are the most likely to go.

I wouldn't complain too much if both Smaby and Lundin started next year in NF. Better to have guys pounding at the door than still looking for the house number.

If it were my choice, they'd

If it were my choice, they'd clear Lukowich off the books, although Torts would probably have kittens if they gave him a d corps that young.

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